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I wonder if you could give a little insight on Trae Waynes? What does his future hold? -- Dave Simons
Waynes was reserve cornerback and the team's leading special teams tackler as a rookie in 2015. In 2016, he took a step forward and played significantly more on defense. I expect another step forward this offseason from Waynes and it's fair to expect he can compete to be a full-time starter at cornerback. Great top-end speed is a strength of his and he's shown development in other areas of his game, too. If I had to guess one thing head coach Mike Zimmer will mention when he talks about things upon which Waynes can improve, it would be reducing penalties. Overall, I am optimistic about his future with the Vikings and I love the idea of having two young, talented cornerbacks on the roster with him and Xavier Rhodes.
Like Brandon Marshall, who are some big-bodied receivers the Vikings should consider in free agency to help elevate the young receiving talent and QBs on roster? -- Pete Marinello
It's hard to say right now because we don't know which receivers will hit the open market. If I look at players who are scheduled to be free agents, the ones who could be qualified as bigger-bodied guys include Alshon Jeffery, Terrelle Pryor, Michael Floyd, Kenny Britt, Brian Quick, Anquan Boldin and Vincent Jackson. I don't know how the Vikings feel about any of those players, but my sense is Jeffery, Pryor and Floyd will have the most interest from teams across the League.
With the offensive line being one of the main positions the Vikings need to address this offseason, would free agents such as Ronald Leary, Rick Wagner and Luke Joeckel be players that the Vikings would have a realistic chance of signing? -- Jacob Rasmussen
If they hit the open market, all three could be candidates for the Vikings because they are young, have experience and play a position that general manager Rick Spielman has said the team plans to address this offseason. Those three have 127 combined starts and they are all 27 or younger. It's only speculation as of now, though, because we don't know if they'll be free agents, if the Vikings have high grades on them and if they want to play in Minnesota. One element of free agency that is often overlooked is the desire of the player. A team can like a player all it wants, but it's the player who decides where he plays. There must be mutual interest for a deal to happen.
How hard would it be for Cordarrelle Patterson to be a viable running back in the NFL? This sounds exciting to me. -- Brian Breault
Any time you ask a player to switch positions there is a level of difficulty to it. This question is asked a lot about Patterson and I think it's because the Packers have had success transitioning Ty Montgomery from wide receiver to running back. It's not an entirely fair comparison because Montgomery has some running back experience in his background, whereas Patterson does not. My sense is the transition would be tough, but I also watched Patterson work hard as a gunner on the punt team so I know he has a desire to be on the field.
What's your view of the prevent defense? Seems to me it prevents victories! If you have held a team in check for 58 minutes why change the scheme? I have seen so many games lost by teams going to it. -- Gary Roseville, CA
No, you've actually seen more games won with the prevent defense than lost, it's just you notice the losses because they are more notable. No one credits the prevent defense after a win; they only criticize it after a loss. A big function of the prevent defense is to help take time off the clock. If you're up by two scores with fewer than four minutes to play, for example, a defense is willing to give up short underneath receptions while playing a prevent defense because it knows it will take the offense a lot of time to march down the field to be in position to score. There are times when the prevent defense backfires, of course, but the same can be said for aggressive defense. Situational football is vital in the NFL, and the bottom line is there are times when the situation calls for the prevent defense.